Reflections On My First Fan Convention

by Kate Garoutte-Smith


How odd it was, the idea of tromping out the stars for our viewing pleasure, as if they were animals at the zoo...or at least that's what I thought for a little while. Until I met them, and talked to them, and realized that while a few have been on the convention circuit awhile and are a bit jaded, most are just as happy to be there as you are. Still, it felt weird. Not that I've had trouble meeting famous people. I used to be a radio personality. I've met a few, and even enjoyed a little bit of small-town fame myself.  I did personal appearances, met people who had only heard my voice on the radio. Of course, having someone recognize your voice probably isn't quite the same as having a recognizable face. But I digress! On to the story:
THE PHOTO OP: My friend Debbie and I got in line for the James Marsters photo-op right around 12pm, it was already really long. By the time we made it up to the door, the mild flutter I had going on had turned into all-out nerves, and I'd touched up my makeup about 12 times. Debbie and I were waved into the small conference room as the girl ahead of us was just getting up, and Debbie told me, "You go first!" as I got my first good look at James, sitting just a few feet away from me, and suddenly I was moving forward, toward him, and he looked up at me and took my hand and said in the sweetest tone, "I am so happy to meet you." Now, I know the guy is a phenomenal actor, but he really seemed to mean what he was saying. Debbie snapped a shot of me shaking his hand,  and you can see the smile on his face-it gives me flutters just looking at the pic! :) I sat in the chair next to him and he put his arm around me, and we posed for the photo-op shot, and then Debbie took another one, and then I stood up and shook his hand again, saying "Thank you!" at the same time he was saying "Thank you!".  I swear, I was shaking like a leaf, and all I could really think about was that there were all these people behind me in line that wanted to meet him just as much as I did, so I should hurry up--I regret that now, because I think I rushed a little more than necessary.  So I moved out of the way so that Debbie could get her photo op shot, and she decided she wanted the pic taken with them standing, and asked James to stand for the pic, which he seemed happy to do in spite of  (what we realized at that moment) a nasty knee injury (he explained that one later at the Q n A). Debbie said to him as they smiled for the pic, "Boy I bet you get sick of doing this after awhile." and he said "You know I really don't, I love it!" I took a pic of them as they were talking. To sum up the photo op experience,  James was quiet, almost shy, and soft spoken, and incredibly gracious and patient. With the injury, he seemed almost frail, but he really came alive later in the day. Oh, and I almost forgot, he has the softest hands! It was almost a shock when I took his hand, I guess maybe I thought that since he was a guitar player his hands would be rougher.  I think what really threw me for a loop was that he was so gracious and sweet, I think maybe I wasn't really expecting that.
ANDY AND JAMES LEARY, JAMES MARSTERS Q&A SESSIONS:  For the most detailed report of these, head over to M'lyn's Livejournal. As for my personal impressions: Debbie and I stopped by James Leary's table early in the day (actually before the official start of the convention) and got his autograph and chatted with him for a little bit and took pictures. He is a genuinely nice guy and funny, too. :)  After the photo op with James Marsters, Debbie and I went out for a smoke and then just wandered around the convention for a while, losing each other at one point (until I thought to call her cell phone, DUH). There was some commotion near James Leary's table at one point, it turns out it was Andy Hallett arriving. I got there  as he was posing for a photo with some fans. I was going to ask for one too, but some beefy bodyguard-type guy ushered him away before I could. After wandering for a little while more, Debbie and I hooked up again and headed to our seats for the Andy and James L. talk. I took like a whole roll of pictures, but my flash never went off (I thought I was in auto but wasn't), so none of them came out. :(  At least Debbie got one on my other camera (I was using my photography-student sister's fancy schmancy Minolta, Debbie was using my camera). Far away (I think we were in like the 6th row), but you can kinda see 'em. :)  Like I said before, M'Lyn's Livejournal is pretty complete as far as what the guys discussed (I only took notes when James Marsters was on stage.. :) )  I think my favorite comments were in regards to "Clem the foreskin demon" and Andy's fanfic story. (Again, see M'lyn's for details). I missed out on the auction, cuz #1, I was broke anyway and #2 it was time for another smoke break. :) I made sure to get back to my seat before JM took the stage.  The first thing I noticed was that while in the photo op he was quiet/soft spoken, and seemed almost frail (I think the knee injury contributed to that), onstage he was vivacious and energetic, and he is clearly extremely intellectual, and he also struck me as being very spiritual, in a zen kindof way. Debbie thinks he has an untamable streak, too. :) In the things I didn't know department, his dad wasn't around when he was growing up, he was raised by his mom (strangely, in all honesty, 95% of my relationships have been with men raised by single moms). And he doesn't drink. Also, when asked "What keeps you up at night?" His response was, "Anger." He said that's part of the reason he enjoys playing Spike so much, he can get out his aggression in the fight scenes. He also said one thing he missed about Big Bad Spike is that he doesn't get to fight as much anymore. Of course, someone had to ask the question that the giggling girls in all of us really wanted to know: "Are you single"? He said that yes, he is, but he's "taking a break" from dating right now. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "You ever get in that situation where every person you date just seems like they're the same person over and over again?" Many of us knew what he was talking about, and I remembered that there is a song on the Buffy album about that very topic, "I Already Met You" by Superfine. I thought that was kinda funny.  Oh, and he did a bit from MacBeth (M'lyn has the exact bit in her Livejournal), and ohmigod, I got chills! He was so intense and compelling. It was at that moment I think that it really hit home for me what a wonderful actor he is.  More from my notes: Yes yes yes! James said that while Joss may take a year off before going ahead, there WILL be a new Buffy spinoff and Spike WILL be in it! Woo hoo! Someone asked about his band, Ghost Of The Robot, touring and he said they're touring Europe this summer but no plans to come to the Pacific NW just yet (apparently they tried but couldn't find a venue! I wish I was still in radio~*I* woulda found them a venue, dammit.. :) ). Someone asked if he surfs Buffy websites or reads fanfic and he said he tries to stay away from that stuff, although I'm hoping he was referring just to the fanfic and not the websites-more on why in a bit.  His favorite thing about playing Spike is the fight scenes. When asked if he's like Spike in any way, he said "No! " and that he's glad, because he would rather bring himself to Spike than vice versa, then made fun of actors who become their characters off the set, "How pathetic is that?" Someone asked how he felt about Spike getting his soul and he said he loved it, it was a great turnaround for the character. I got daring and decided to go up and ask a question myself, which was difficult because though I had come prepared with 18 questions, many of them had already been asked, and I wanted to ask a good question. So I chose "I read that you were surprised by the details of Spike's human history when you first read the script for 'Fool For Love'. How would you have written it differently?" He said it would have been boring if he had written it, so he's glad he didn't, adding that if actors got to write the scripts they'd be full of fights scenes and getting the girl in the end. He was talking to the whole audience as he answered my question, so I figured, ok, I asked my question, so I go back to my seat. But as he was finishing his answer (as I got back to my seat), he looked back at where I had been standing then kinda looked around like "Where did she go?"...Just one of my many minor foibles that day that I spent the 3 hour ride home kicking myself over! :) Anyway, he also talked about how he had told Joss some of the details of his childhood, and when he read the script, he was like "hey!" because a lot of the awkwardness he felt growing up (and conveyed to Joss) seemed to lay the groundwork for William. (Which reminds me of a story I read where Charisma Carpenter had told Joss one of her greatest fears was being impaled, which *poof* became a scene in "Lover's Walk"!)  Finally, he said he loves his fans, he gets a charge out of the attention/adulation, but doesn't let it go to his head, because as Joss told him, (I'm paraphrasing again), "The minute you do, that's when you'll suck." Well, that's the end of my QnA notes. Afterwards was the autograph signing, which, M'lyn was right, took *forever*...By the time I finally got up to the table, the previously mentioned beefy bodyguard-looking guy had announced that there would be no personalizations, and instructed Andy And JM "Just sign". I think Andy has a rebellious streak because when I got up to him he does this little peek around, looks up at me and winks, "Who's this to?", so he signed "To Kate" at the top of mine even though he wasn't supposed to. :) Unfortunately, JM was sitting right next to the guy that said no personalizations, so he couldn't, but knowing of him what I now do, I think if he'd been where Andy was, he'd have done the same thing. :) Anyway, I had, prior to getting in line, written a website address down on a piece of paper and was holding it between my fingers. I knew he said he didn't surf the web, but I had to try: I said as he was signing my picture, "I didn't get a chance to ask you one of my questions," and he said "what's that?" and *took my hand* (eee!) but I was holding the paper in that hand and didn't know if he was shaking my hand or taking the paper then realized I hadn't yet explained what the paper was and yes this all passed through my mind in about a split second and we wound up doing this awkward hand dance that made me blush profusely, all the while the steam of conversation kept going:  "Did you know that there is a website dedicated to Spike's headtilts?" (I had found the site a little while ago and love it--I thought he would get a kick out of it as well, so that's what I had written on the paper..) As he dropped his chin to his chest with a grin on his face (like he was..hmm.."pleasantly embarrassed" maybe?), I put the paper down in front of him and said, "here's the web address if you want to check it out.. " and smiled back at him. As I was starting to walk away, he called after me, "Yeah, I drive the camera guys crazy with that...", I said "Yeah, I bet" and winked at him! :) Oh, and did I fail to mention that  inside the folded piece of paper with the Spike's Headtilts web address on it was *my* email address and home page address?  ;)  I wonder if he'll check it out. Who knows, maybe he'll read this! :) If so, hey James, you are wonderful, and though you reduced me to a big pile of goo with your winsome ways, meeting you was a fantastic experience! :)
If he doesn't read this, it's ok, I actually have composed a letter to him, but I'm gunna send that snail-mail. :)

Oh, and in case you don't go check out M'lyn's Livejournal (but you should!!), I borrowed some text from her, as I had picked up the same flyer that she did, which reads:
 Do you love Spike? Do you want his journey to continue beyond the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Then take part in the SPIKE SPIN-OFF POSTCARD CAMPAIGN. The Spike Spin-Off Postcard Campaign is very simple. Here's what you do. Get a postcard, preferably one showing where you live, and send it to the folks at UPN. Address it to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer c/o UPN 11800 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 On the back of your postcard, write: We want a Spike spin-off. If UPN buys it, we will watch it! We love Spike! Add your name and age to show them what demographic you represent. With only a 23-cent stamp, you can show support for James Marsters and his portrayal of Spike. Don't believe those who say speaking out has no effect! An ad thanking James will appear in Variety on March 24, the day before a Spike-centric episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer airs (episode 7x17, "Lies My Parent Told Me.") Now is the time to show your support! Take part TODAY! This is THE critical moment for fans of SPIKE!

Woo hoo! Anyway, I have some more thoughts on conventions, and Buffy, but I think I'll leave it at this for now.

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Last Updated 11/27/2004